Summer Internship Spotlight: Jefferson Education Accelerator

Kalea Obermeyer – September 12th, 2017

Abby Mainwaring is a fourth year at the University of Virginia studying Youth and Social Innovation and Spanish. This past summer, Abby ventured to Arlington where she interned for the innovative startup company, Jefferson Education Accelerator, and has continued her work into the fall 2017 semester.

How did you hear about JEA and what was the interview like?

My advisor sent an email through my major around December last year. Then she passed along my resume and I first had a phone call with my prospective boss, then had an in-person informal interview on Grounds.

Tell us a little more about your internship...

I was an intern for the Jefferson Education Accelerator, and the company is located in Arlington Virginia. I started as a summer intern in June and continued the internship into this school year. The Jefferson Education Accelerator partners with the Curry School of Education at UVA to work with ed tech companies that develop tools in areas such as formative assessment and second language acquisition. We collaborate with them at events like the EdTech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium in DC, where we bring companies and educators together to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. We also pair companies with researchers to help get their studies started and make sure the products actually have an impact through evidence-based research.

What was your role with the company, and how was your experience unique from others?

I would help out wherever I was needed because I was the only intern in a four person company. I took over all the social media, created a template for JEA reports, and conducted market research for companies that we worked for. I have been involved in education innovation very broadly at UVA, but I had never worked in the field before.

JEA in particular was in a small, enclosed environment, so I was working very regularly with each person in the company. I was able to be a witness, and even sometimes play a part, in some of JEA’s major decisions. It’s hard to learn about different areas of education in the workforce, and this was the perfect way for me to gain that exposure. I’m so incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity.

What did you gain from the experience?

Professionally, I learned about how education works as a system; how education technology and education in general work together, which was fascinating because it was a new area for me to learn about. I also learned a lot about office etiquette, terminology, how to carry myself professionally, and when it’s appropriate to make my voice heard in certain situations. On a more personal level, I gained a lot of clarity about my career path. Through this internship, I verified that I want to work in education and that I don’t have to do so by becoming a teacher, which is something I think a lot of people don’t realize. The best way to figure out what you want to do is to get thrown into a new experience because you learn so much from being in intimidating or scarily-new situations.

Do you have any advice to people pursuing internships in education?

For education internships, you have to be patient. The education industry is on a different timeline than what other students at UVA are applying for- for instance, some consulting internships are solidified in the fall, but education opportunities usually come about in the spring. Also, make sure that the organizations you get involved in align with something you’re passionate about; it’s hard to see the whole of a company solely by what’s online, but knowing what you’re involving yourself with keeps you motivated in your work. Lastly, keep an open mind because there are so many ways to get involved in education that don’t follow a standard route- whether it be policy or counseling, it’s all connected.

Did you have a great summer experience in the Education, Counseling, or Youth Development field? Share your story with the UVA Community! Email or with “ECYD Blog” in the subject line